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 Zoopharmacognosy refers to the process by which animals self-medicate, by selecting and utilizing plants, soils, and insects to treat and prevent disease. Coined by Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, a biochemist and professor at Cornell University, the word is derived from roots zoo ("animal"), pharma ("drug"), and gnosy ("knowing").[1]

Observers have noticed that some species ingest non-foods, such as toxic plants, clay or charcoal, to ward off parasitic infestation or poisoning.[2] For example, Jane Goodall has seen chimpanzees eating certain bushes to make themselves sick. Some Brazilian parrots eat kaolin (a form of clay).

Illustrating the medicinal knowledge of some species, apes have been observed selecting a particular part of a medicinal plant by taking off leaves, then breaking the stem to suck out the juice. [3] In an interview with the late Neil Campbell, Rodriguez describes the importance of biodiversity to medicine:

"Some of the compounds we've identified by zoopharmacognosy kill parasitic worms, and some of these chemicals may be useful against tumors. There is no question that the templates for most drugs are in the natural world." [3]


  1. ^ Gerber, Suzanne. "Not just monkeying around", Vegetarian Times, November 1998.
  2. ^ Biser, Jennifer A. (1998). "Really Wild Remedies — Medicinal Plant Use by Animals." Smithsonian National Zoological Park website; accessed on 2005-01-13. (provides several examples)
  3. ^ a b Biology (4th edition) N.A.Campbell, p.23 'An Interview with Eloy Rodriguez' (Benjamin Cummings NY, 1996) ISBN 0-8053-1957-3
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Zoopharmacognosy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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